Well, nobody ever said I was organized, LOL:)!
Let me start with Christmas Eve. Despite all my worries and because of Nancy’s hard tireless work keeping us all on task, the music was wonderful, the services beautiful and the occasion, as always, meaningful! Thanks to Nancy’s contacts in the musician community, there is this wonderfully talented group of men and women called the Bay Street Brass – who play with us. Together with Nancy, they make us sound almost like professionals! I got to do a whole bunch of fun stuff – singing with the choir, playing tambourine in one part; tympani accompaniment for “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and one of the Christmas Carols for Offertory (now THAT was a blast!); and ringing bells. I think though, that for all that fanfare, and even Leo Nestor’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of “I Wonder as I Wander” in the choral Prelude that we did, my two favorite parts of our Christmas Eve service is the singing of “Silent Night,” after Communion and the Hallelujah Chorus, sung by all as a Postlude. Silent Night starts with the organ (and of course, Nancy does the Zimbelstern thingie) and everyone in the congregation singing in 4-part (or more) harmony. Then the organ drops out, the lights go low and everyone in the church is singing this beautifully simple hymn as one. It’s a very moving moment for me. I can’t help but think of the original lyricist – a pastor of a little village church in Austria and his organist/choirmaster who set the words to an old tune back in 1818. The song reminds me of the hushed silence that must have filled the hearts of humanity when the Savior arrived on earth in the form of a vulnerable baby.
Of course, the Hallelujah Chorus I know by heart and by the time we get to that at the second service, I’m singing it with a somewhat scratchy throat, LOL:), but it cheers the heart and imparts joy to all who hear it. Most everyone who has been in a high school or college choir has sung this piece of music and usually knows their vocal part fairly well. So we have a lot of support from the congregation. That, plus the organ, brass and Tom at the tympani going full blast and they could hear us in Baltimore.
Bishop Eugene Sutton of our Baltimore diocese was there and at the end of the services, tipped his mitre to the choir loft and enthusiastically “conducted” the congregation in singing along with us, smiling all the time.
As I type these words I realize that something has come full circle. Our church is in Maryland (or “Merlin” as I like to call it) and was built in (I think) in the 1800s before the Civil War. Technically, Merlin was a Southern State, although during the Civil War it was occupied by the Union, so there wasn’t much rebel activity – and like parts of other states, it had its Union and Confederate sympathizers – with Baltimore and points west tending more toward the North (in general) and the Eastern Shore being more like the South. At the time the church was built, there used to be one more entrance on the side of the church, to the right of the front doors as you face it. That entrance went to the MacCubbin (spelling – not sure!) Tower and a spiral staircase which led to the “Gallery,” a seating area upstairs where the slaves had to sit when they attended church services, hidden from the white folk. It is that “Gallery” where we sing. The MacCubbin Tower is now an emergency exit from the choir loft in the event of fire, but that separate entrance has been bricked over – a reminder of a shameful part of our history.
I have said in to Nancy that the souls who used to worship there must be at peace because I never get any bad vibes (not that I’m psychic or anything, just saying). Her reaction seemed to indicate that she felt the same.
Why do I bring this up? Our Bishop, happens to be African American (although he is known as the Green Bishop for his interest in environmental activism). I cannot help but feel that there must have been much rejoicing in Heaven that night, as a descendant of brethren of former Gallery occupants marched down the main aisle of that church, wearing the Bishop’s Mitre – and that very same Bishop, tipping his mitre in appreciation for the efforts of the newer Gallery occupants!
John had to work overnight Christmas Eve, so as I was finally on my way home after a long night at about 1 a.m., I called him at the hotel where he was the only one on the front desk and was the first to wish him a Merry Christmas. I got home and was exhausted, but in a good way.
Christmas Day, began when John got home from work and made me wake up and open his gift (because he was dying of curiosity about what I had gotten him). So, we opened our gifts and he went to bed. I slept in a little, then got up and started getting Christmas dinner ready. The kids trickled in a group at a time. We opened gifts and hugged the grandkids and had a big old Christmas dinner. John had to work that night. By 10:30, I was ready for bed! A great day with everyone.
The following week, there was virtually nothing to do for work. I was on call for shelters, but there weren’t any – at least none that were our clients. So I got caught up on a few things and finished a few knitting projects:).
I did not get Nancy’s sweater done by Christmas, but did get it finished by the 27th. But she was away, so I gave it to her this past Sunday. It’s a bit off-center as planned. Hopefully it will fit OK. I crocheted the pieces together and crocheted the button and neck bands with three rows of half double crochet. I decided on a bunch of silly red buttons as a nod to the holiday season. For all the cabling, it’s really just a simple cardigan, easily taken on and off as the fickle heating system in the church building works (or doesn’t!).
Speaking of weight, I’m still working on it. The holidays destroyed my resolve, but a bout of incredible joint pain last weekend renewed it again and I am back to eating right. When the joints start feeling better, I’ll be walking and/or swimming. It’s been a couple of days and I feel better already. (OK enough of the boring crap).
I also decided to add a few projects, with the goal in mind of making a list of what I want to get done this year and hopefully taking my number of UFO’s down to half.
I have been working on a crocheted baby blanket for a dear friend whose mother died over Christmas – leaving an unfinished “blankie” for a new great grandchild. I will not be showing a picture of it, since I feel it’s a private thing for this family. I did finish a bulky cowl for the penultimate child that ended up being used as a snood by my youngest. I knit a cap for Baby John on Christmas Eve – only took me about 2 hours, LOL!
There are a number of scarves and shawls I’d like to make – a couple by Anne Hanson of Knitspot – Tudor Grace (seen here in its early stages, using Ultra Alpaca Fine);
I’m making Bitterroot from a Briar Rose Fibers yarn called Sea Pearl, color no. 502 and this picture does not do it justice. It’s a joy to knit with. I don’t know what I’m going to use for the Birnham Wood wrap yet – possibly a light color laceweight or doubled laceweight in stash.
New Year’s Eve John had to work again, so I went next door to our neighbors, Bill and Pat and rang in the New Year with them and a bunch of their friends. I had a very enjoyable conversation with a lady named Jean who, with her husband, did Revolutionary War enactments and who was quite the historian. She and her husband own a place in Bolton Hill in Baltimore and have renovated the house which predates the Civil War or at least was otherwise untouched the Baltimore Fire of 1904. The conversation was fascinating. She is also a nurse and we heatedly debated health care issues (yes, I behaved myself, I was polite, I was a veritable Marxist!). It was a very pleasant evening, but I was home by 12:16 because I wanted to do some knitting.
Because John again had to work New Year’s Night, I went to a lovely dinner at Denise’s home to celebrate the New Year – and what a terrific time I had! I started the Bitterroot pattern and had a chance to see the beautiful work everyone else was doing. We chatted about everything under the sun and had some amazingly good food. EfM and Saturday babysitting have kept my Sip ‘n Knit attendance to a minimum this year, so this was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with everybody.
Nobody objected to me taking pictures. And I did tell them I was putting them all in my blog, so at least I didn’t get these pics under false pretenses! Knitters are generally good-natured folks. As you can see from the smiles, we really did have a great time! Denise’s home is so beautiful – it’s made for Christmas decoration! Everyone showed what they were working on.
I have to say, though, that one of the funniest times was when Lynn did her “Ravelry Pose,” hiding half her face into her knitting! Mary (above) almost did the same! Thank you Denise, for your kindness and your incredible enthusiasm and incredible spirit! You and Lynn are a great team – and the reason our group is still going so strong. Dorothy (Pheelya on Ravelry) is a co-organizer for our Saturday group. Her knitting is just beautiful. She, like Denise, and the other Lynn – Lyn M – actually completes things, LOL:!) One of her completed projects is shown here.
One more thing before I go: Last night I cast on for this: available through Schoolhouse Press in Wisconsin – Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Green Sweater” reconfigured by Sunday Holm as mentioned in Jared Flood’s article about the sweater in the Fall (?) 2009 issue of the Twist Collective. Would that the sweater is going to be in this size. I started the provisional cast-on and am still on the hem at the bottom. I’m knitting it in Plymouth’s Encore – a worsted weight yarn 75% acrylic/25% wool – but soft and machine washable. The color is a bluer green than what is pictured here, but I think it will be fine. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a picture of a finished sweater some time next year, LOL! I’m curious to see how steeking will work for an acrylic/wool blend. Definitely will need to use the sewing machine for this one!
To bring things up to date, Monday started us all back to the regular work week and a day of court and meetings. Tomorrow will be frenetic prep for Thursday’s court day. Today was a day of catching up on paperwork and return calls (and of course bell prx) and Thursday we practice for Evensong at Charlestown to take place Sunday (bells and choir). We are going out to dinner afterwards and John is actually going to come with us! Who knew?
Well, gotta go. I’ll try to get back sooner than last time. Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again.